Genre straddling

The model for Dune? The Red Planet: Mars image from NASA

Frank Herbert Dune
Gollancz 2001 (1965)

Foretold one gets dumped
in desert, then goes native.
Returns, beats baddies!

Dune is one of those thoughtful novels that successfully straddles the genres of fantasy and speculative fiction. SF often deals with philosophical ideas and scientific concepts in a fictional setting where exploration of the conundrum frequently takes precedence over the plot. Fantasy, on the other hand, often shows less interest in mechanisms and tends to go for a variation on a familiar narrative.

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Doom foretold

mars2
Mars, showing one of the polar caps: NASA image via http://internetlooks.com/mars03.gif

Frank Herbert Dune Messiah
New English Library 1972 (1969)

Talk, think, talk, think, talk;
conspiracies in deep space
while billions die.

I must confess my heart sank when I began reading this, the sequel to Dune, to find it seemed to be not just more of the same mind games played between key characters that its predecessor relied on but also relatively devoid of action of any kind. There was the usual psychological power play conversations indulged in by powerful individuals who were either human computers, psychics, drug users with heightened prescient awareness, shapeshifters or revenants, in fact nary an ordinary human being among the lot of them. How would it be possible for the reader to make an empathic connection with beings who are palpably superhuman?

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